Economic, Social and Labor Protest Monitoring

2020 Mid-year Protests Factsheet: Surviving the peak of the coronavirus

The first half of 2020 included four unusual months as the whole world struggled with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a deadly pandemic which killed up until June around 503,862 people globally and in 2,872 people in Egypt. Despite the several obstructions to movement as per lockdown rules and crackdown on freedom of speech by the government to quell any kind of opposition and protests, the Social Justice Platform team documented 2,261 protests, in which Egyptians used a diversity of tools to show their dissatisfaction with their economic and social circumstances, despite the pandemic.

Depending on the data collected from various media reports, this factsheet touches on the general trends of protesting in the first half of the year, as well as the top protesting groups, in addition to the protests that were held with relation to the pandemic.

Out of three protest categories (social, labor, and economic), the first half of 2020 was dominated by social protests, with 1,998 protests marking a noteworthy 88.37% of the total, while economic protests came second (158 protests, 6.99%), and finally, labor protests were third (105 protests, 4.64%). Also, during the first half of 2020, 41 cases of self-mutilation were documented, and 31 of these ended in death, which means a sharp increase when compared with the midyear analysis of 2019 where only 15 cases were documented. Most of these incidents are documented as economic protests as the official narrative which is published by media outlets cites “economic hardships” as a reason for the act.

Complaints and statements continue to dominate social protests, where individual civilians, or in instances a group of residents, workers, or employees, either sent or handed to officials and members of the parliament, or sent to newspapers. Nevertheless, 58 protests included demonstrating, workplace sit-ins, or road blocking.

This type of protesting, seeking help, or demanding an explanation, remains a favorite and safe form of showing discontent with social and economic problems, especially amid increasing limitations on various kinds of political dissent and difficulties of organization. It has been on the rise since 2017, as several physical protests have been dealt with by violence and arbitrary arrests.

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